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Smithsonian: Air and Space Museum and Mitsitam Café

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Smithsonian American Indian Museum
Cafe at Smithsonian American Indian Museum

Cafe at National Museum of the American Indian

While I could have easily spent a full day at the Smithsonian American History Museum, a D.C.-area friend had recommended the Mitsitam Café at the Smithsonian American Indian Museum as a “little known gem.” I decided to make my way there for lunch.

Mitsitam cafe
Smithsonian Native American Museum

The cafeteria serves native-inspired foods that span the American continents. I got a buffalo burger and fry bread.

Smithsonian Native American Museum

The menu also includes options like wild rice and ceviche.

DC Museum cafe

This is definitely a place I’d like to come back to and try more things!

Smithsonian space museum

National Air and Space Museum

When I walked down Independence Avenue to the south entrance of the Air and Space Museum, I was discouraged to see a line over 100 feet long to get in. I had started back toward our hotel, when I looked back and saw that the northern entrance – along Jefferson Drive – didn’t seem to have a line! Sure enough, about five minutes later I was in the museum!

Air and space museum

So keep in mind that there is more than one entrance, especially since, as Stephanie later told me, the Air and Space Museum is the most popular of the Smithsonian museums.

Amelia Earhart

Immediately upon entering, I saw display spaces festoooned with replica and original air and space craft – a lunar landing module, the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the front half of the fuselage of a 747, rocket nozzles as big as my living room.

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: plane

In the past I had wanted to be an astronaut, so I was particularly intrigued by the exhibits showing relics of the U.S. space program in the 60s and 70s – toolkits, suits, windowed hatches, flight manuals, and the like. There’s even a very official and ornate “certificate of merit” presented to the first chimpanzee sent to space by the U.S., which I found both ridiculous and moving. While I was certainly impressed by the spacecrafts themselves, oddly, it was these historic bits of ephemera that captivated me the most.

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The guided tour moved a bit too slow for me, so I bailed out to cover more ground.

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Marty met up with me about an hour into my museum visit, so that was a nice surprise. We toured the World War II fighter aircraft exhibit together. I especially appreciated the naval aircraft display that replicated both the deck and interior of an aircraft carrier.

Air and space museum

Unfortunately, our time soon ran out at the Air and Space Museum. We went to the food court with the biggest McDonald’s I’d ever been to. There was a large seating area and lots of windows to let in light. Fortunately, we went as the day was winding down, so we didn’t have to wait in line long.

National Mall sunset

I enjoyed sitting in the gradually-emptying mega-McDonald’s and debriefing the museum sights with Marty.

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Gift Guide 2016

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments

2016-gift-guide

Since last year’s road-tested gift guide was a hit, here’s my 2016 list of traveler gift ideas I actually own, use, and love!

Bag at sunset

1. Lo & Sons O.G. Overnight Bag

This bag strikes a fabulous balance between being roomy yet sleek, having enough pockets to keep things organized but not so many you go crazy trying to find things. There’s even a side pocket that solves the ongoing dilemma of how to pack shoes! It’s set up so you can use it for work stuff, craft projects, and/or travel. Sized to be used as an overnight bag or carry-on – it’s slim enough even for budget airlines with restrictive carry-on/cabin baggage policies (like RyanAir).

Lo and sons bag

 

Details:

  • 17″ x 6.5″ x 15″ bag with 9.5″ handles.
  • Removable shoulder/crossbody strap.
  • Outside is made from water-resistant nylon with leather handles and silver or light gold hardware.
  • Available in black, navy, army green, crimson red, burgundy, or heather grey. Lined with poly jacquard (lavender, camel, grey, or azure). Leather handles. Hardware in silver or light gold.
  • Lo & Sons also sells a slightly smaller overnight bag called The O.M.G.

Lo and Sons bag

What I have: The O.G. Overnight Bag, black exterior / silver hardware / lavender interior / black handles.

Where to find it: Order on loandsons.com by 12/11 for delivery by 12/24.

Price: $206.50 on sale (reg. $295)

BlogHer '16

2. h2go Force Vacuum Bottle

Keeps cold water cold – even in a hot car during summer in Phoenix. Apparently, you can also use it with hot beverages, but I haven’t tried that yet. (I have, however, used it as an impromptu vase in my hotel room during BlogHer.)

Details:

  • Colors include matte black, mossy oak camo, matte army green, neon green, neon orange, neon pink, neon yellow, and gloss white.
  • Available in 12, 17, 26, or 34 oz. size.
  • Double wall stainless steel with copper vacuum insulation and threaded stainless steel lid.
  • Marty’s technical explanation of why it works so well: the lack of air between the outer part of the bottle and its inner lining prevents heat transfer, so contents retain their temperature longer.

H2go water bottle
What I have: h2go Force Vacuum Bottle, 26 oz. in matte gray

Where to find it: While manufacturer H2go Hawaii is still building out their online store, you can contact them directly to order. Call (808) 216-7460 or email info@h2gohawaii.com with your shipping address and the model, size, and color of the product/s you’d like to buy. They’ll follow up with online payment information. Shipping within the U.S. is included and typically only takes a few days.

Random individual bottles sometimes show up for sale on Amazon and eBay. They’re also available in bulk from promotional products vendors.

Price: $29.99

 

necklace

3. MyIntent Necklace

Simple yet elegant jewelry personalized with an intention, value, or encouragement. Perhaps there’s an adventurous spirit in your life you could celebrate with a gift of a necklace that said something like “wanderer,” “keep exploring,” or “play outside.”

Details:

  • Classic necklace available in black, silver, or gold.
  • Handcrafted in the USA.
  • They also offer different types of chains, bracelets and gift sets.
  • To DIY, check out their maker kits.

MyIntent necklace

What I have: Classic necklace in silver. (I wrote about the words I chose on Instagram.)

Where to find it: Order on their site, and they’ll hand stamp your word. Order by 12/18 for delivery by 12/24.

UPDATE: $5 off when you join MyIntent’s loyalty program.

Price: $25

 

Action cam

4. AKASO EK5000 Action Cam

Super compact, lightweight wide-angle camera for photos, video, and timelapse. It has a removable waterproof housing, put to the test in Frida’s tank and in the blowing dust at Seven Magic Mountains outside of Vegas. It also comes with more mount options (for helmets, drones, etc.) than I’ll probably ever use. I’d recommend it for someone who wants the flexibility to take video anywhere without worrying about wrecking an expensive camera.

Seven magic mountains vegas

Details:

  • 2-inch LCD screen
  • 170-degree wide angle lens
  • 2 rechargeable batteries
  • 17 mounts

Camera

What I have: AKASO EK5000 1080p WIFI Sports Action Camera 12MP HD Waterproof Camcorder in black.

Where to find it: Amazon

Price: $54.99 on sale (reg. $79.99)

 

Humangear containers

5. GoTubb Containers

These are so useful for containing little odds and ends you’re taking with you – sunscreen, pills, earrings. They’re easy to open, but we haven’t had one leak yet. Humangear also makes the GoTube from last year’s guide.

Gotubb

Details:

  • Sold in sets of 3 in a mix of colors.
  • Food-safe.
  • 100% BPA-free, PC-free, and phthalate-free.

What I* have: Humangear GoTubb .9 cubic inches (14 cc) set of 3 in clear / green / blue

*Technically, what Phillip has. But I borrow them pretty regularly.

Where to find them: Humangear.comREI, possibly Target.

Price: $6.99

 

NoRayz

6. NoRayz Sunglasses

As you may recall from our previous review, NoRayz sunglasses are comfortable, built well, and excellent for blocking the sun.

Details:

  • Polycarbonate, polarized lenses.
  • Blocks 100% off UVA and UVB rays.
  • Handcrafted in the USA.

NoRayz sunglasses

What I have: Sedona sunglasses (Marty has the Yuma model)

Where to find them: Order through the NoRayz site by 12/14 for delivery by 12/24.

Price: $150

Norayz


 

Yes, some of this was free…

  • Lo & Sons provided The O.G. bag for review.
  • NoRayz provided the Yuma and Sedona sunglasses for review.
  • The MyIntent necklace was a gift from MyIntent to BlogHer speakers.
  • The h2go Force bottle came from a BlogHer sponsor event with the GoRVing organization. They were there to promote RV traveling and not beverage containers. However, campers don’t fit in swag bags.

…but it’s all really great stuff that I feel is worth recommending.

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NoRayz Sunglasses Review

Posted by on Oct 7, 2016 in Travel | 4 comments

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Driving towards California with the late afternoon sun dipping just below the car’s visor, I found myself reaching up to my face to make sure my sunglasses were on. More than once.

They were. It just didn’t seem like it.

Sunset in Indio

I was wearing inexpensive (but cute!) Target sunglasses, and the glare seemed to cut right through the lenses.

I thought about the NoRayz sunglasses that were en route to my mailbox and wished I could’ve brought them. NoRayz is a new eyewear company that makes performance sunglasses, and I had a hunch they’d be better at blocking the sun than what I was wearing.

They were.

NoRayz

Once I got back and tried them out, I realized just how much they would’ve helped. They fit comfortably snug on your face and block the sun without obscuring your vision.

NoRayz

They’re effective and sturdy enough to wear during hiking, running, skiing, or driving directly into the sunset. The top portion is shaded to further reduce glare.

NoRayz

Phillip tried both pairs, as well. He expected to prefer the smaller frames (“Sedona”), but once he tried them on, he liked the fuller coverage of the “Yuma” pair much better.

NoRayz

While I thought they looked great on Phillip, they’re not a style I’d just wear around. However, the next time I’m going on a long drive (or a hike), they’re definitely coming with me.

image

I asked the technically-minded Marty to check them out, as well. So I’ll wrap up with his analysis.


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Marty’s take:

NoRayz sunglasses come in two sizes. Since I have kind of a large head and I like a lot of coverage from the sun, the larger pair were my first choice.

They are robust looking with a 1 3/8″ hinge arm area tapering down to just under 1/2″ at the ear pad.

The other feature that is very noticeable is the top quarter of the lens area is blacked out, like a built-in visor. I tested this feature while driving west about sundown and found that it worked pretty well.

The glasses came with a soft cloth bag that doubled as a lens cleaner. Nice, but other brands in this class typically also include a hard case with a clip or MOLLE gear attachment point.

The optics were good as was the overall workmanship. They were very comfortable for the 3-hour drive. I like that they are handcrafted in the USA.

Nice sunglasses for outdoor sports, biking, or riding a quad. They reminded me of the mountaineer-style glasses equipped with side shields.

NoRayz

  • Protection: Lenses are polarized to block 100% of UVA and UVB rays, including glare from reflections.
  • Rating: ANSI rated at z80.3-2015
  • Material: Lenses are polycarbonate and frames are polycarbonate resin.
  • Price: $150.

We received 2 pair of NoRayz sunglasses to review. 

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Wear Pajamas for Charity

Posted by on Sep 28, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

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Here’s a travel story for you [from my dad, Marty, during a day trip last fall. –S]:

We were cruising through Prescott, looking for a dinner place and found a family diner called SueAnn’s Apple Pan.

It usually closes at 2pm, but we just happened to hit PJs and Eggs night, which is a charity event supported by Hickman’s Family Farms. All the staff and most of the customers were dressed in jammies, and they were serving breakfast only.

We felt like we crashed a happy, boisterous family meal. Very cool. Might need to put this on calendar for next year!

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– More Info –


Photo credits: 1. Marty 2. The American Egg Board

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